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Top Stories: Sunak Under Pressure To Suspend Raab, Half Of Schools Impacted By Strikes

Rishi Sunak is facing calls to suspend Raab during the bullying probe (Alamy)

6 min read

The Prime Minister is under pressure to reveal what he knew about bullying allegations made against Dominic Raab when he appointed him as his deputy.

At least eight formal allegations of bullying are being investigated by Adam Tolley KC, spanning Raab's entire ministerial career.

Raab has repeatedly denied bullying or breaking the ministerial code.

But Sunak is facing calls to reveal the full extent of what he knew about Raab's alleged conduct after a Downing Street spokesperson would only deny the PM's knowledge of any "formal complaints".

It comes just days after Sunak was forced to sack Conservative chair Nadhim Zahawi after an independent ethics probe found he had breached the ministerial code over his tax affairs.

Senior civil servants have been spoken to as part of the investigation, with Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA trade union saying as many as 24 people were being spoken to by Tolley.

Opposition parties have urged Sunak to suspend his deputy while the investigation is being carried out, with Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey telling Sky News the allegation were "hugely serious".

"Well, he should be suspended from his job," he said.

"I think viewers will be shocked that these hugely serious allegations, up to 24 allegations, we're told, of bullying, and he's still serving.

"At the very least, he should be suspended pending this inquiry."

But a Downing Street spokesperson dismissed the calls, saying it was normal for a minister to remain in post while investigations were being conducted.

Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said the probe was "yet another sign that you've got a Prime Minister who is not in control of his own party".

"We've got this extraordinary situation where the prime minister can't even say whether he was aware of allegations surrounding Dominic Raab," she said.

"I have to say... that when I shadowed Dominic Raab, I heard a number of rumours about allegations of bullying within the department it seems to me extraordinary that the prime minister wouldn't have heard about that and yet appointed Dominic Raab to the second highest position in British politics."

Labour accuses Shell of profiting from Ukraine war

Shell has reported record profits in 2022 (Alamy)

The oil giant has reported record profits of £32.2bn last year, with soaring energy prices as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine contributing to their bumper results.

Speaking to Sky News, shadow climate change minister Ed Miliband said the government had failed to protect the public from the cost-of-living crisis by refusing to implement a "proper windfall tax".

"As the British people face an energy price hike of 40% in April, the government is letting the fossil fuel companies making bumper profits off the hook with their refusal to implement a proper windfall tax."

Miliband said it was "only right" that oil and gas firms which were making "unexpected windfall profits from the proceeds of war" were forced to pay higher taxes.

"When it comes to oil and gas interests, Rishi Sunak is too weak to stand up for the British people," he added.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said it was wrong for companies to be making "outrageous profits" as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

"Rishi Sunak was warned as chancellor and now as prime minister that we need a proper windfall tax on companies like Shell," he said. "They must tax the oil and gas companies properly and at the very least ensure that energy bills don’t rise yet again in April."

The calls for a tougher tax regime for oil firms comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in November that the energy windfall tax would rise from 25 per cent to 35 per cent, a decision he said would raise an extra £14bn a year for the Treasury.

Responding to the record profits, Shell chief executive Wael Sawan insisted the company would "remain disciplined".

"We believe that Shell is well positioned to be the trusted partner through the energy transition," he said. "We intend to remain disciplined while delivering compelling shareholder returns."

Over half of schools in England were closed or partially closed by teacher strikes

teachers strike
Thousands of teachers in England and Wales went on strike on Wednesday (Alamy)

Data released by the Department of Education showed 51.7 per cent of state schools in England were impacted by a major teacher's strike on Wednesday.

According to the figures, 43.9 per cent of schools were fully open, 42.8 per cent were open but with restricted attendance, while 8.9 per cent were fully closed.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she was not fully aware of the impact of the strikes, because teacher's were not obliged to tell schools whether they were staying away from work because of the industrial action.

The decision by the National Education Union to strike had been branded "deeply disappointing" by Keegan, who echoed comments by other ministers who said teachers had a "reasonable" pay packet.

"I am very grateful to head teachers for all their work to keep our schools open and to minimise the impact of today's strike action," she said on Wednesday.

"One school closure is too many and it remains deeply disappointing that the NEU proceeded with this disruptive action - but many teachers, head teachers and support staff have shown that children's education and wellbeing must always come first."

But NEU general secretary Mary Bousted defended the decision, saying a "toxic combination" of low wages and high workloads had led to a recruitment and retention crisis.

"We have teachers who are worried about whether they can put petrol in their cars to drive to work."

The teachers strikes on Wednesday came alongside walkouts by hundreds of thousands of other workers, including civil servants and bus and train drivers.

Other mass walkouts are expected in the coming weeks as the government continues to face pressure to improve pay and work conditions across a swathe of sectors.

Paul Nowak, general secretary of the TUC, which coordinated Wednesday's strikes by hundreds of thousands of union members across a number of sectors today, said the government had made a "political choice" to refuse pleas for a pay increases.

"Next week we have paramedics and we have nurses. There will be the firefighters - we know they have now voted for strike action. So the amount of people taking or voting for action is going to grow," he said.

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